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Buffy The Vampire Slayer Characters Ranked By Likability

Though it premiered a decade and a half ago now, "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" remains one of the most beloved fantasy shows of all time. It's an extremely re-watchable show, and fans of the series love to return to their favorite episodes, again and again. Though "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon has since fallen from grace after a number of credible allegations against him, fans of the series still hold the show -– and its many dynamic characters -– close to their hearts.

While "Buffy" originated in 1992 as a cheesy movie, the story got retold in series form with a slightly more serious tone. Sarah Michelle Gellar was cast as Buffy, some cheap makeup and prosthetics were purchased, and producers were off to the races. Despite its title, "Buffy" was not all about Buffy — her reliable "scooby gang," the cast of supernatural villains she faces, her love interests, and her high school nemeses all make up the colorful fabric of the show.

It's true, of course, that all these characters are not admired equally. Over the years, there have been some rather contentious debates among "Buffy" fans. Do you prefer Buffy and Angel, or Buffy and Spike? Do you hate Dawn, or think she was unfairly maligned? Why is Riley even there? These debates can't rage on forever, so we've decided to settle it, once and for all. Here is our definitive ranking of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" characters, from least to most likable.

15. Xander Harris

Though Xander doesn't have a literal demon in him like Angel does, he's not a very useful member of the team. While he occasionally cracks a funny joke or two, he doesn't have much to contribute to the gang, nor is he a particularly likable character. One of his worst qualities is his treatment of women. He spends the first couple seasons pining after Buffy and then getting angry when he's rejected, and then he cheats on Cordelia with Willow. Not to mention he spends a significant amount of time slut-shaming Cordelia and then casts a spell on her to make her fall in love with him. And, worst of all, he leaves Anya at the altar in Season Six.

Sure, Xander's not a villain per se, but he's not particularly heroic either. His only tactical skills seem to come from that one time he thought he was in the army for like two hours, something he milks for several seasons afterward. He occasionally has his useful moments – like when he brings back Dark Willow from the brink of destruction in Season 6 – and we will give credit where credit is due. But, at his best, he's just kind of annoying, and at his worst, he's downright malicious.

14. Angel

Let's face it: Angel kind of sucks. (No pun intended.) Before you get angry, let's make a distinction. We're talking about Angel as he appears in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," not Angel as he appears in "Angel." If we were talking about Angel in his eponymous series, we might be having a different conversation, because the guy actually has a hint of personality there.

But we're not, so let's talk facts. Angel's super boring. What does he do for fun? What are his likes and dislikes? Can you name even two unique things about him? Also, he's really not good for Buffy. First of all, he's too old for her (by a lot) — and when they sleep together for the first time, he loses his soul, turns into Angelus, and goes on a murderous rampage. During this rampage, he ends up killing Jenny Calendar, who actually is an extremely likable character, and we have a hard time forgiving him for that. He also breaks up with Buffy in a sewer right before prom, which is almost as unforgivable as murder.

13. Riley Finn

On paper, Riley sounds like a good guy. First of all, he's actually human (unlike Buffy's other, old-as-hell vampire love interests), and he also seems like a normal, well-adjusted person. They first meet at UC Sunnydale, where Riley TAs for Professor Walsh's psychology course. It turns out that Riley is not so normal, after all: Professor Walsh actually runs a secret military operation called the Initiative, for which Riley works.

Unfortunately, like Angel before him, Riley is quite boring. (Without any of Angel's immortal mystique.) While things between Riley and Buffy seem to be going well for a while, he starts to expect more than she's able to offer. While Buffy is busy taking care of her sister and her mom after having brain surgery, Riley starts acting like a grade-A jerk and complains that she doesn't need him or care about him anymore. Because his macho ego can't handle a woman who doesn't come crying to him any time there's a problem, he goes out to bars and starts letting vampire women suck on him. When Buffy eventually finds out, he turns it on her and says she drove him to do it. By the time he finally leaves, we're more than happy to see him go.

12. Dawn Summers

Let us start by saying this: we don't hate Dawn. The intense hatred of her character is totally unnecessary, and there's really nothing blatantly wrong with her as a person. Michelle Trachtenberg was portraying a precarious, slightly annoying little sister just like she was supposed to, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that.

However, compared to the other characters on "Buffy" Dawn certainly doesn't rank very high up on the list. And that's okay! We don't need to love her. But, to be fair to Dawn, it does suck pretty majorly that she was literally created by monks as a physical manifestation of the Key, and that her whole life –- or at least the memories she has of her life –- is essentially a lie. Little sisters can be annoying -– Dawn certainly proves this -– but she's really not so bad, in the grand scheme of things. Sure, she's the reason a musical demon takes over Sunnydale and forces people to sing until they die, but, this also gives us one of the greatest "Buffy" episodes of all time, so we can't really blame her for that one.

11. Spike

Unlike his vampire rival (and former friend) Angel, Spike does have a personality — and a rather outsized one at that. All his flaws aside, Spike is quite funny and a hugely entertaining character. His love/hate relationship with Buffy is amusing to watch, and when they do finally get together –- bringing an entire house down with them -– it's fun to watch.

But, there's one thing Spike does that we can't overlook. There's an extremely disturbing moment in Season 6 where Spike attempts to rape Buffy, and we can't in good conscience ignore that. Though Spike and Buffy have their fair share of fights, this one crosses a line. Spike does try to make up for it by returning in Season 7 with his soul restored, and maybe for Buffy this is enough to redeem him — but for us, it doesn't quite cut it. There is something to be said for the fact that Spike is still a far better person without a soul than Angel is without one, but maybe that's because he's just a morally gray character either way.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

10. Joyce Summers

All in all, Joyce is a pretty neutral character in the "Buffy" universe. She does give Buffy some sage advice every now and again, but she also never quite understands Buffy — especially where the whole "slayer" thing is concerned. We don't really blame Joyce for this, though. How could she understand, really? A huge theme of the show is that Buffy feels like no one understands her because of this huge burden she carries, and thus she rarely lets people in fully.

Part of this is Buffy's own stubbornness and insistence on independence -– she's pretty bad at asking for help -– but part of it is just the nature of being a slayer. Joyce certainly doesn't react very well when Buffy finally tells her she's a slayer. In what was clearly meant to be a "coming-out" analogy, Joyce asks Buffy why she can't just decide not to be a slayer and save herself the trouble. But Joyce comes around eventually, and even if she's not perfect, she clearly loves Buffy and wants what's best for her.

9. Glory

Apart from the villains who were once Buffy's friends -– Angel, Faith, and Dark Willow, mainly -– Glory is by far the best villain in "Buffy." For one thing, she's just so darn fun. An evil hell goddess who loves fashion, having a good time, and bossing around her demonic minions? What's not to love? Well, the fact she's trying to kill Buffy and kidnap Dawn, for one, but we can overlook that for now.

As evil and deranged as she is charismatic, Glory is a supremely likable villain, played brilliantly by the actress Clare Kramer. Like Spike's paramour Drusilla, Glory is a little off her rocker, which makes her all the more fun to watch. Plus, Glory's actions had some pretty important consequences as far as the plot of "Buffy" goes. In order to keep her own (thinly held) sanity, Glory drained the sanity from humans. She does this to Willow's girlfriend, Tara, which causes Willow to go into a blind rage and attack Glory, something that acts as a precursor to the "Dark Willow" persona that emerges in the following season. Every hero needs a good villain, and Glory is certainly a formidable one.

8. Anya Jenkins

One of the few demons (or ex-demons) in Sunnydale who acts –- as Anya herself puts it, as a "useful member of society" –- Anya is a hilarious character who winds up being a surprisingly useful member of the scooby gang. Disguised as a high schooler, she first appears in a Season 3 episode called "The Wish," during which she gets Cordelia to wish for a world where Buffy doesn't exist –- a wish she gladly grants. Unsurprisingly, this turns out terribly, as Buffy is evidently the only thing preventing the world from descending into chaos.

When Anya is stripped of her powers shortly thereafter and forced to actually live as a teenager, it takes her some time to adjust. This adjustment period is downright hilarious, especially since she sees every struggle of being a teen as a grave injustice against her personally. (The fact that she deeply hates men but somehow catches feelings for Xander of all people is also a laugh.) As a human woman, Anya loves money, and as such, thinks Monopoly is the best game ever invented. She's also terrified of bunnies, a surprising phobia for a 1,000-year-old ex-vengeance demon. But, these are the quirks we love her for, and we wouldn't want her any other way.

7. Rupert Giles

As far as members of the male species go in the world of "Buffy," Giles is a pretty good one. For most of the series, Giles acts as something of a father figure to Buffy, whose own father left her when she was a child. Apart from a somewhat misguided attempt to teach Buffy to stand on her own (which saw him leave her and retreat to England in Season 5), Giles was always there for Buffy and did everything he could to make sure she was prepared to fight her enemies.

The admirable job Giles does as Buffy's watcher notwithstanding, he's also a good-spirited and compassionate member of the scooby gang. He's not their leader, per se, but he is an essential part of the team, being the only adult –- and as such, the voice of reason –- among a group of sometimes impulsive teenagers. Plus, there's a lot more to Giles than initially meets the eye, which makes him a significantly more interesting character. We initially learn in Season 2 that in his youth, Giles used to be something of a bad boy and was known as "Ripper." It's also revealed that he has a gift for music when the gang catches him singing in a cafe at the end of Season 4. Really, there's a lot to love about our favorite watcher (sorry Wesley).

6. Faith Lehane

Faith might be the most tragic character in the entire Buffyverse. Yes, we know Angel was cursed with a soul so he would be tormented for all his days, but he also killed all those people, so he kind of deserved it. Faith, on the other hand, never really stood a chance, and she deserved much more than the life she was given. On paper, Faith is written as Buffy's foil. She's everything Buffy's not, but wishes she could be. She's confident, sultry, and unattached. Faith, on the other hand, wishes her life was more like Buffy's.

What was clearly written to be something of a girl fight dynamic between Faith and Buffy quickly progressed into something much more, owing in large part to Eliza Dushku's searing performance, as well as their palpable chemistry. Faith's character could have easily come off as a brutish mean girl, but Dushku brings a lot of nuance –- and sadness –- to the role, which really makes it something special. Even when Faith is very clearly fighting on the "wrong side" -– such as when she works for The Mayor –- we still feel for her because her actions are because of her intense need to feel loved and protected. As an orphan with no friends or family to speak out, Faith really pulls at our heartstrings -– and looks so cool while doing it.

5. Cordelia Chase

Cordelia might be the resident mean girl at Sunnydale High — but let's face it, she's also hilarious. Plus, while the jabs she throws at her less popular classmates are not very nice, nothing she does or says to any of them is truly unforgivable. Though it's mostly against her will, Cordelia also becomes a verified member of the scooby gang and occasionally proves herself useful to the team.

Much of Cordelia's charisma comes from the actress who plays her, Charisma Carpenter. As Cordelia, Carpenter never misses a beat and always delivers her lines with perfect comedic (and dramatic) timing. Also like Faith, Cordelia is something of a foil to Buffy, who sees herself as strong and serious, as opposed to vapid like Cordelia. (Though, in another life, they would have most certainly been best friends.) But Cordelia proves herself to be capable of, if not fighting, at the very least surviving, and she becomes more and more likable as the seasons go on -– fancy heels and handbags and all.

4. Buffy Summers

Perhaps it's surprising that the lead character of a show is not ranked as the most likable character in that series, but that's also what makes "Buffy" great. Buffy is a very flawed character, and that's what makes her so compelling to watch. She's undoubtedly a very inspiring hero -– and perhaps the most powerful person in the universe -– but she struggles in other areas of her life. She's often very hesitant to ask for help, which frequently creates problems between her and the rest of the scooby gang. Even though she loves her friends, it seems that deep down, she feels she can only rely on herself.

Despite her shortcomings, Buffy's also very lovable. She's brave, witty, great with one-liners, and easy to root for. Even when she's struggling -– such as her deep depression in Season 6 -– we're still compelled to cheer for her heroism. She may not have the best taste in men, but we don't blame her for that, either. But, while it's endlessly fun to watch her slay demons 'till the cows come home, she can't be our number one. After all, it's not a hero's job to win the popularity contest.

3. Tara Maclay

Tara is a kind, compassionate person, a good girlfriend to Willow, and a dedicated member of the scooby gang. She's not perfect, but she undoubtedly has a good heart, which makes her easy to love. The worst thing she ever does is in Season 5, when she casts a spell on the gang so they can't see demons, but this is easily forgivable. (And the gang do indeed forgive her.) As Willow lovingly puts it, the only reason she did it was because her abusive family essentially brainwashed her, and her circumstances make it all the more remarkable that she's turned out the way she has.

Though she might seem overly meek at times, she's not afraid to stand up for herself, and in fact breaks up with Willow when she finds out she's used magic on her. Because she was so beloved by Willow -– and by many fans –- her death was one of the saddest in the whole series (perhaps second only to Joyce). Moreover, Willow and Tara's relationship was a huge milestone for LGBTQ representation on television, and Tara's innuendo-filled song in "Once More With Feeling" will go down in history as an iconic moment in the series.

2. Willow Rosenberg

Though Buffy is obviously the most important character in the show, Willow is a close second. As Buffy's best friend from the very beginning, Willow is always there for her -– in both tactical and emotional contexts. Willow also has probably the most extraordinary growth out of any character on "Buffy," and her arc is incredibly satisfying to watch. We also see a few different versions of Willow, which is quite the treat. There's doppelganger vampire Willow who shows up in two different episodes in Season 3 and is incredibly fun, scary, and, as Willow puts it, "kinda gay." Then there's Dark Willow, who emerges in Season 6 following Tara's death and gives us a terrifying look at Willow's addiction to magic and the darkness she holds within.

Through all of this, we love Willow, and we love watching her go on this journey. From a shy, nerdy girl who does other people's homework for them, to an all-powerful witch who literally saves the world from total destruction, Willow changes a lot over the course of seven seasons — without ever losing who she is at her core. And at her core, she's smart, driven, kind, and above all, strong. What's not to love? (Well, apart from the time she literally flayed a man alive ... but he totally deserved it.)

1. Daniel 'Oz' Osbourne

We've found the definitive answer: Oz is the most likable person at Sunnydale High, and also within the "Buffy" universe as a whole. He has an incredible sense of deadpan humor, is a wonderful, supportive boyfriend to Willow (who does turn out to be gay, but that's beside the point), and he's in a band. What more could you ask for? Okay, there was that one time he had that weird dalliance with a werewolf lady, but he was just trying to figure out who he was and get a handle on his wolfie nature, so we forgive him.

Oz had some of the best one-liners in the show, including but not limited to "we attack the mayor with hummus" and that one time he dressed as God for Halloween. He also was a genuinely good person who clearly cared about Willow. This is best illustrated in Season 4's Halloween episode, when we learn that his greatest fear is hurting Willow with his wolf powers. Plus, he's got great hair and wears badass black nail polish. Case closed.